The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is going ahead with its hearing Thursday about special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and his investigation of Russian election interference, but unless there is a last-minute change, Attorney General William Barr will not be appearing to testify.
The Justice Department said late Wednesday that committee chairman Rep. Jarrold Nadler’s plan to have committee staff question Barr was “inappropriate,” adding that the attorney general remained “happy to engage directly with members on their questions” about the Mueller report.
“I hope and expect that the attorney general will think overnight and will be there as well,” Nadler said as he pledged to convene the hearing Thursday morning.
Barr testified for hours before a Senate committee Wednesday about his no-obstruction decision and his oversight of the end of Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Nadler had planned to have his committee tackle the same subjects, giving the 41 members five minutes each to ask Barr questions and then another 30 minutes for both Democratic and Republican lawyers for the committee to make more inquiries of Barr.
Barr agreed to be questioned by the House lawmakers, but rejected further questioning by the lawyers.
Nadler said the committee will take “whatever action we have to take” if Barr skips the hearing.
“He is terrified at having to face a skilled attorney,” Nadler told reporters Wednesday.
He said Barr had also failed to provide to the committee a copy of the unredacted report as requested by his committee in a subpoena, and that legal actions to get the report would be a higher priority than moves to compel Barr to testify.
Mueller cited 11 instances of possible obstruction of the investigation by Trump, saying that “while this report does not conclude that the president committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
With Mueller not reaching a decision on the obstruction question, Barr said he concluded no criminal charges against Trump were warranted.
Democrats said they want to question Barr how he reached his no-obstruction decision.